Message for Chanuka

 
Message From the Kalever Rebbe for Chanukah 5769

 

 

Chanukah commemorates two miraculous events in the history of the Jewish nation that occurred some 2,200 years ago:

 

  1. The supernatural victory of a greatly outnumbered Jewish army over the mighty and numerous forces of the Greek empire.

 

  1. The miracle of the lights in the Bais Hamikdash (the Holy Temple), which followed the victory. In the course of re-instituting the ritual services in the Bais Hamikdash, only one small container of uncontaminated olive oil was found that could be used to kindle the lamps of the Menorah. Although it contained barely enough oil to remain lit for a single day, the oil lasted for eight complete days until fresh oil could be processed and brought to the Temple.

 

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Interestingly, when the great Rabbis of that period established the holiday of Chanukah, they placed greater emphasis on the miracle of the lights, assigning the Mitzvah of lighting the Menorah as a remembrance for all times. No particular Mitzvah was enacted to commemorate the victory in war. We must ask why the miracle of the lights figures more prominently in the Chanukah celebration?

 

To shed “light” on this issue, it is important to understand the critical role that Chanukah plays in the ongoing struggle for Jewish

continuity through the ages.

 

It is axiomatic that the key to Jewish survival is proper education with regards to knowledge and fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvos. This education is primarily taught in the context of daily living in a Jewish home. After all, children follow the examples they see in their home and emulate their parents’ behavior. The Talmud (Sukkah 56b) states this very succinctly: “The chatter of young children derives from their father or mother.”

 

It is therefore of utmost importance that children grow up in a home that fosters a wholesome and enthusiastic appreciation for Torah and Mitzvos. Parents must exhibit an eager desire to perform Mitzvos saying, “When will I have the next wonderful opportunity to do another Mitzvah?” And when performing a Mitzvah, studying Torah or praying, be sure to do so with great love and joy. Children will thus gain an appreciation for the beauty of Torah and will continue in the ways of their parents.

 

If, however, a child observes parents performing Mitzvos with pain and irritation, parents who complain, “I have to get up so early to pray,” “I have to go to shul to daven with a minyan but I haven’t the time,” “I have to close my business on Shabbos and will suffer financial loss because of it,” It’s so difficult and expensive to keep kosher,” then almost inevitably, that child will want no part of this practice and will surely drift away from religious practice and observance, G-d forbid.

 

This was the very challenge that the Jewish people faced during the historic period of Chanukah. The Greeks tried, often successfully, to sway the Jewish people away from their traditional Torah observance. They enticed them with the physical and materialistic blandishments of Greek secular culture. Unfortunately, many Jews fell victim to the allures of the Greek street and slowly gave up their religion.

 

With the help of Hashem, a remnant of Jews survived who had remained faithful and committed to His Torah and Mitzvos. They fought valiantly to preserve their way of life and, miraculously, prevailed. Their first desire after victory was to perform the Mitzvah of lighting the Menorah in the Bais Hamikdash, symbolically demonstrating to all Jews, and to the world, that Torah and Mitzvos are the true lights of the universe. With great effort and sacrifice, they searched for a pure, uncontaminated flask of oil in order to rededicate the lighting service in its most pristine and beautiful form. Divine assistance allowed them to find the last remaining flask, which miraculously burned for the next eight days.

 

Through the Mitzvah of lighting our Menorahs we reenact this dedication to performing Hashem’s commandments with love and joy. We light an additional candle each successive night of the holiday to show that the light of Torah and Mitzvos is ever increasing. The Menorah is lit at our doorpost to show not only our children but the entire world that we will remain committed to our holy traditions now and forever.

 

May Hashem bless us all with the strength and ability to carry on His holy mission together with our children, and may our celebration of Chanukah bring much light to all mankind.
 
Special Thanks to Clifford Meth & Rabbi Abraham Farber, for the English translation
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